“Flanders should achieve full autonomy”

The Flemish Minister for Internal Affairs Geert Bourgeois (nationalist) has said in a newspaper interview in Saturday’s edition of ‘De Standaard’ that Flanders should be given full autonomy. Mr Bourgeois hopes that his party’s score in next year’s regional and federal elections will make it “indispensable” to the formation of the next Flemish and federal governments.

He also hopes to become Prime Minister in the next Flemish Government.

"Everything should be transferred to Flanders: fiscal policy, employment policy, social security…Simply everything.” Mr Bourgeois is clear in which direction he wants to go after next year’s elections.

"Flanders and Wallonia should be given full autonomy.”

In order to achieve this Mr Bourgeois is hoping for a so-called “Copernican revolution”. “We don’t believe in the technique used for reforming the (Belgian) state. We’re not going to retreat to a castle to negotiate for 600 days.”

He hopes that the nationalists gain enough support at the next elections to make them indispensable to the formation of any new government. This would allow the party to force its will on the Francophones.

“We’re at almost 40% in the polls. This gives us a clear mandate. The Francophones will soon notice that we mean business.”

"Brussels will remain our joint capital"

Mr Bourgeois says that he respects the Francophone parties’ democratic legitimacy. “Wallonia can develop into a socialist, Latin state. Everyone is free to determine their own path.”

However, he is not prepared to give up Brussels. "Brussels will remain our joint capital. The Francophones should not think that they will get Brussels.”

However, the Flemish Deputy Prime Minister realises that negotiations concerning the future of Brussels will be “extremely difficult”.

Mr Bourgeois hopes that the Flemish liberals and Christian democrats will support his plans for a confederation. However, he realises that relations between the nationalists and these two parties are currently strained.

"Crowning achievement of my career"

In the interview, Mr Bourgeois also reveals his ambition to become Flanders’ next Prime Minister if the voters give him a mandate.

"I’ll be 62 soon and I would really like to carry on playing a prominent role."

When asked if the role would be that of Flemish Prime Minister, Mr Bourgeois replied “That would be the crowning achievement of my career. I would like to take on the challenge”.